While President Obama did not mention the issue of citizen preparedness explicitly in his inaugural address, he did strike several themes in the speech directly relating to the subject. It is why I believe that preparedness can be a key element in implementing the President’s vision of increasing the public’s level of involvement and engagement in their communities and the nation.
1) New Responsibilities Of Citizenship:
“What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task. This is the price and the promise of citizenship.”
As has been discussed a good deal on this blog, emergency preparedness should be viewed as a responsibility of citizenship in the 21st Century. And the fact is that the more prepared and engaged we all are, the stronger our communities will be before, during and after whatever disasters we face in the future.
2) Role of Citizens In Their Communities:
“For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break…”
Emergency preparedness offers Americans many opportunities to help out in small and large ways to strengthen their communities and in turn the country – whether that is taking in a stranger when the levees break or checking in with an elderly neighbor beforehand, giving blood, or volunteering for CERT or the Red Cross.
3) Security And Civil Liberties:
“As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.”
One of the great challenges for the nation going forward is to determine the balance between security and civil liberties. It is a question that the government cannot answer alone and will need the input of the public. However, to do so Americans need to be better informed about the key issues, tradeoffs, threats and priorities.
Obviously, the nation faces many challenges in the months to come, and citizen preparedness is not a front and center issue. However, I believe that an effort to improve public readiness and engagement can be very helpful in reaching President Obama’s objective of a more informed, involved and responsible public.